PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF (Aug. 17, 2011) – Eight players booked tickets to the quarterfinals of the NCGA Amateur Match Play Thursday at Spyglass Hill.
Medalist and #1 seed Kevin Wentworth staved off the so-called “medalist jinx” with two close wins Wednesday. In the round of 16, the 27-year-old pulled off a brilliant approach to four feet and made the subsequent birdie on the final hole to hold off U.S. Amateur-bound Matt Pinizzotto 1-up. The match had started with an early 3-up advantage for Wentworth, but turned into a topsy-turvy contest in which the competitors traded 1-up leads before the final hole. Wentworth had already taken out #32-seeded Taylor Travis in the morning match 1-up. Travis was fresh off a runner-up performance in the Pacific Coast Amateur at Martis Camp two weeks ago. “I’m tired,” Wentworth said after two matches that went all 18 holes. “Once you lose momentum, it’s hard to get it back.” The Diablo Grande member has now duplicated his best finish in this event; he made the quarterfinals last year as well.
Wentworth faces 2009 NCGA Junior champion Michael Weaver in the quarterfinals. Weaver defeated pre-tournament favorite Scott Hardy 2 and 1 in the morning and upended Danny Paniccia 4 and 2 in the round of 16, putting on a dominating putting display. For the week, the rising junior at Cal has yet to three-putt Spyglass’ notoriously treacherous greens. “I’m really putting well inside 10 feet,” he said modestly. “My speed has been good.”
Randy Haag is playing in the final eight for perhaps the 15th time in his storied career after defeating 2009 State Amateur champion Geoff Gonzalez 3 and 1. The 52-year-old’s record of longevity is almost unprecendented. Often playing against college players less than half his age, the five-time NCGA player of the year continues to rack up honors. “You have find a way to get the job done,” the Olympic Club member said. “I have enough confidence that at some point I know I’ll get some momentum going if things aren’t going well.” By securing a spot in the quarterfinals, Haag continues to meet a challenge he set for himself as the year began: making the top ten in every NCGA point event he enters.
Haag will face Cameron Rappleye, who earned a spot in the quarterfinals with a dominating 6-and-4 win over Wes Sandroni. The rising senior at Sacramento State nearly missed the cut for match play, qualifying on the cut number after posting a torrid five-under 31 on his back nine Tuesday. “If I wasn’t going to make the cut, I wanted to at least create some good vibes,” the Roseville City champion said. Those vibes were better than good – he’s been on a roll through the back nine yesterday and both matches Wednesday. Rappleye, who made it to the round of 16 at the State Amateur in June, took out Andrew Biggadike in the morning round, 2 and 1.
Spencer Fletcher of Los Altos defeated 15-year-old Sebastian Crampton 5 and 4. Fletcher, a rising senior at Arizona State, earlier defeated Matt Covan of eClub South Bay. Fletcher will face Anthony Barrera of the Ranch GC. Barrera defeated Belmont’s Bryson Dechambeau in the morning and upset #2-seeded Scott Travers 1-up in the afternoon.
Matt Cohn of eClub San Francisco Bay upset the #3-seeded Cory McElyea of DeLaveaga 5 and 4 after earlier beating Nick Moore of Bayonet/Blackhorse 3 and 2. Cohn will face defending champion John Catlin of North Ridge CC, who blew out Ryan Thomas of Diablo 6 and 5 in the morning match and defeated Jeff Gilchrist 2 and 1 in the round of 16. The rising junior at New Mexico is pleased with his play thus far. “My game is in good shape,” he said.
Thursday will see the quarter and semifinals at Spyglass Hill with the scheduled 36-hole finals set for Friday.